Wyoming hopes strong start will provide confidence to finish

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

When Dave Christensen looked at Wyoming schedule at the beginning of the season, he didn’t have any estimation as to what his team's record would be midway through the season.

As a new head coach teaching an entirely new system, Christensen was just hoping his team would play hard and give itself a chance to win. So, it’s fair to say that sitting at 4-2, including a league-best 2-0 mark in Mountain West Conference play, has been a pleasant surprise.

“We expected to get better on a weekly basis and I think that’s pretty much what we’ve done,” Christensen said. “We had a couple Big 12 teams early on the schedule and we did some things well in both those games. Obviously, not well enough to win them, but I thought we still made progress each and every week… I didn’t look at it and think about what our record would be. I just knew we wanted to get the program to where we’re playing hard each game and improving on a weekly basis and I think we’ve done that.”

Since Christensen decided to make true freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels the team’s starting quarterback instead of junior college transfer Robert Benjamin, the team is 3-0 and has scored at least 30 points in each of those games.

Christensen said he doesn’t regret not starting Carta-Samuels at the start of the season because it allowed him a transition period to get used to the speed of the game and get a feel for the offense.

“He will continue to mature each and every week that he plays and the intangibles, he’s doing them better and better and more and more,” Christensen said. “He does all the things that you want the quarterback to do. He makes great decisions, doesn’t force a lot of balls, understands the scope of the offense and what we’re trying to do and provides good leadership.”

Christensen is careful not to get too high with his team’s start. Wyoming was in this position in 2007 with a similar schedule. It started 4-2, but went on to finish 5-7. And Christensen knows he hasn’t gotten into the meat of the conference schedule -- the Cowboys have faced two MWC teams with losing records -- and that the final six games of the season will be the most pivotal.

But Christensen thinks what Wyoming has done to this point should serve the team well as it heads into this tough stretch beginning this week at Air Force.

“I think our kids have gained confidence each and every week, particularly the last three,” Christensen said. “We’re not ready for Wyoming to arrive, but I think we have made great progress, I think we are an improved football team, I think our kids understand how to compete and play hard and I think that kind of where we’re at. We understand that the next six games are going to be challenging, but we’ll focus on one game at a time like we have all year and just go out and play the best we can each and every week and hopefully we can get more W’s."